Photo by petrOlly via Flickr. Some rights reserved.
(Upcoming posts: How To Handle Recruiters Wanting To Connect, How To Deal With Trolls Now That You’ve Gone Viral)
In case you weren’t aware already, recruiters use LinkedIn to find, qualify, and engage with talent for open positions. I can’t confirm an actual statistic, but one study reported in 2016 that 84% of recruiters use LinkedIn to recruit while another study from March 2018 reported that 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet candidates. I believe them both.
Engagement in volunteering, mentoring, or non-profits (63%)
Mutual connections (35%)
So, if you want to be visible and desirable to recruiters as part (not all) of your job search plan, below are four things you can do to increase your chances.
Please be advised that companies report their highest quality candidates come from external recruiters only 7% of the time, and 26% report that their lowest quality candidates come from external recruiters. So, allocate your time investment in recruiters to be about 10% of your efforts. Contact us to learn what to do with the other 90% of your time.
The good news is the efforts below will not only make you attractive to external recruiters, but also internal recruiters and, even better yet, hiring managers.
Follow and engage with recruiters and industry leaders who are active on LinkedIn.
By active, I mean they post regular status updates, like and comment on others’ posts, and have 500+ connections.
When you follow them, their updates will show up on your homepage feed. But, when you follow a lot of people and companies, algorithms will govern your homepage feed so that you only see status updates with strong engagement predominantly. In other words, their posts will only show up in your news feed if others have been engaging with those posts (popular posts).
You will also want to make sure you follow companies on your target company list and internal recruiters, HR leaders, and thought leaders (who are active.) Some that I follow:
Tabith Trent Cavanaugh
Once you follow, you must engage! You can help them gain more visibility by liking their posts, which then adds their post to your networks’ home feed and lists that activity to your profile under recent activity. However, if you want to gain visibility with them or within their network, comment thoughtfully. Asking additional insightful questions will generate the most visibility.
Spend 15-20 minutes doing this daily and you will see the amount of your profile views go up. The amount of invitations or followers you receive will be more reflective of the quality of your posts, versus the quantity. I recommend you focus on what you say rather than how frequently you say it.
We’ll discuss in a later post what to do when recruiters you don’t know invite you to connect.
Add people to your network weekly.
Start by expanding who you think SHOULD be in your network. The obvious people are former or current co-workers, supervisors, vendors, and customers. Some people focus solely on people in their industry or professional realm, but this is a mistake. People don’t operate in industry vacuums. Think of anyone you are on a first name basis with who, if they asked you, you would not hesitate to make an introduction on their behalf. This could be neighbors, fellow soccer parents, doctors and dentists, event planners, attorneys, accountants, etc. Every time you leave your house, think about “the people that you meet each day.”
If you fewer than 200 connections, aim to add 20 each week by inviting 50. If you have at least 200 quality connections (meaning you know them at least as an acquaintance, if not better), and you feel that you have added all of the above-mentioned people, start seeking out those who are commenting on posts of interest to you. It’s the easiest way to connect and customize your invitation message: “I saw your comment/post on >>>> and thought it was really insightful. I’d like to know more about what kind of introductions would be the most impactful to you right now. Do you have 20 minutes or so to get better acquainted offline? My number is…..”
Then, of course, wait for them to accept or perhaps respond, and follow up to schedule an introductory phone call, a lunch or happy hour, or invite them to an event you will be attending and ask them to meet a bit earlier.
Start posting quality content.
What is a quality post? One that exhibits your expertise, but also initiates a discussion that others want to engage.
You have two options for posting content on LinkedIn, and I recommend using them both to some capacity.
The first option is your status update:
You enter this right from the top of your homepage. You have 600 characters here, unless you want to cross-post to Twitter, in which case you have 140 characters. A highly engaging status update now has the potential to go viral even more so than publishing posts, as long as people engage. Engagement will extend the “shelf life” of your post, so your goal is to get people to like and share it.
Think about some of the pains your industry experiences, trends impacting it, and challenges of implementing solutions. Find ways to resonate and empathize with your future employer. Don’t give away all your proprietary expertise, but definitely share the great outcomes to which you have contributed. Tell stories. Express your personality, which will promote you not only as a qualified candidate, but one who would potentially fit in with a company’s culture. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone. Not everyone will give you an offer. You only need one great offer (though we can help you generate momentum that produces multiple offers.)
Read each post out loud twice and have someone else proofread it twice before you put it out there.
We’ll discuss in a later post what to do about trolls. Don’t let them stop you from getting great content out into the world.
The second option is publishing posts:
These are essentially like blogs or articles. They are usually longer (500-800 words) and include keywords. While the “shelf life” of these are longer (they will be associated with your profile either indefinitely, or until LinkedIn decides to change that), they become hard to find unless engagement continues.
They can sometimes be picked up and promoted by LinkedIn. I recommend also sharing through your status update, to individuals who may want to chime in on the comments, and in groups (read and follow all group rules; some don’t want you to self-promote or direct people outside of a discussion thread.)
Think carefully about your titles and try to think about what someone might be experiencing, wanting, or wanting to avoid.
Volunteer and add your experience to your profile.
The better volunteering opportunities are the ones that enable you to interact with people and work on a team. Perhaps you can even be the one that organizes a community event. You might want to start with professional organizations in your industry. See if they have events coming up at which you can volunteer.
I encourage you to choose an organization that has meaning for you. It may or may not lead to you meeting someone who can open a door of opportunity for you, but it is really one of the best ways to remember how valuable you can be for others. And at the same time, helping others less fortunate than you will remind you of your own blessings.
As expressed above, a tertiary benefit is how favorable recruiters look upon this type of activity.
You may also opt to add a post related to that non-profit or volunteer activity and tag others involved to bring them added visibility, as well. Besides professional organizations and non-profits in your community, another place you can go to find volunteering opportunities is volunteermatch.org.
Watch for upcoming posts related to this topic: How To Handle Recruiters Wanting To Connect, and How To Deal With Trolls Now That You’ve Gone Viral.
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It is said that how you do one thing is how you do everything. I first heard this from T Harv Eker. I personally have found many exceptions to this rule in terms of “everything”, but this insight has proven helpful in helping my clients.
For instance, if a client had yet to reach their full potential on the job, it could be because they had yet to have the opportunity to apply an innate strength. So while they may not have been approaching their job and their career by using their strengths, I can look for clues into their personal life and projects to see what their strengths are, and how they can start applying them to their job and career to bring them to the next level.
I can also look at other realms of their lives where they have not achieved their ideal vision and get clues as to what could be holding them back in their career.
For instance, if a client has not yet found love because they have a distrust of other people. Does that distrust of other people lead them to not delegate what needs to be delegated at work? Does it impact their leadership abilities or relationships with their boss and coworkers?
If someone has a low number of connections on LinkedIn and claims to not have a rich network, a reason has been that they had a low level of self-importance and figured people would not want to connect with them. This same low level of self-importance can also hold them back from pursuing promotional opportunities.
Many of my coaching coaches have taught me that we as coaches have to stand for other people’s transformation when they won’t, because it is truly what they want when they come to us, and what holds them back from investing in themselves is what will keep them from reaching their goal.
I have had two types of coaches give this advice; one encourages employing coercive sales tactics, but even if I want to stand for people’s transformation, I can’t bring myself to fight against someone’s will. It’s not in my nature and hasn’t had a good outcome for me.
Other coaches have helped me understand that I need to make my offer of help a no-brainer – affordable, flexible payment plans, tons of bonuses, free stuff, and money back guarantees.
This makes so much more sense to me, but even though this is what I’m offering, and I know people desperately want to land quickly in a job that makes them feel alive, appreciated, and well-paid, I am surprised at how few people watched the free module of my group coaching program that I offered (and am still offering until the group is full – http://bit.ly/FreeDJBSreplay).
I have received some really great feedback on the free module, and people have expressed how much they want in, but have yet to pull the trigger.
While I know that what is holding them back is most likely the thing that is holding them back in other areas of their lives, and as a result of going through this program, they will gain new awareness and tools to not let that stop them anymore, I have to take accountability – there’s something I failed to get across, something I failed to communicate, something I failed to offer.
Help me out –
If you truly desire some kind of improvement in your career, what is stopping you from taking the first step of watching every module, and also taking the steps after that, which I have made as simple, easy, and fun as possible, requiring a lot less of your time than a conventional job search.
From my perspective, I have removed all possible objections that you might have to creating that change.
As the year winds down, and holiday activities kick into full gear, not all of us are focused on the reflection that actually comes naturally this time of year, nor are we always thinking about the new year until we make it through the other winter holidays.
However, before a commercial, consumerist, highly socialized society created new traditions for this time of year that keep us busy rushing around, the tradition was very much focused on peace, quiet, reflection, and resolution.
In Vishen Lakhiani’s book Code of the Extraordinary Mind, he recommends reflecting on 12 different categories of your life and rating where you are and creating a clear vision of where you want to be to know where to focus on improving and determine how. We’ll go through all 12, 3 at a time, leading up to the New Year. Starting…now!
There are the administrative tasks, like making sure your financial records are in order, that need to be done. This gives you the chance to pay attention to a very critical part of your world, your income, where a lot of us derive our value, right or wrong. Even if what you see when you confront the financial part of your life isn’t what you sought, noticing a contrast sets the foundation for creating a new financial goal and vision for the new year. Many people save this reflection for last, or might find it ironic that I appear to be discouraging materialism toward the beginning of this article, but quickly put the focus on money. This says a lot about your relationship to money, actually. Have you been taught that money isn’t spiritual, or that having money means not being spiritual, or even that it’s evil, or to love it is? How do you treat money? If money were your lover, would it want to be with you based on how you treat it? We all know that money is essential to living, but often we resent it, neglect it, or even fear it. I am not promoting making money the most important area of your life, but I am saying that if it is the area of improvement that you want most to focus on improving in 2018, give it the focus and attention it deserves.
If you hadn’t reached your 2017 goals, what accountability can you take for that, and what new knowledge can you gain, people you can meet, or habits can you create to bring about a better result in 2018?
Speaking of jobs, there is also a very good reason I started with money. While there is a “market price” for most positions, did you know you can still reverse engineer your income to match your desired lifestyle? If there is something that you LOVE to do so much, that you would do it for free, but it traditionally doesn’t pay well and you need to make a good living, there has never been a better time to build an income infrastructure that allows you to do what you love WHILE earning a healthy income. There are formulas you can follow, depending on what kind of life you want to create, and while I’m not saying they’re easy, or even simple, if you have the resolve and vision to pull you through the challenges, you can absolutely follow steps that will lead you to freedom and empowerment in your career. Too many have settled for the “safer” path, but how safe is it really?
“Life is all risky, if you think ‘trying’ is risky, wait til’ they hand you the bill for NOT trying. Wait til’ you get the tab for not investing. It’s all risky, getting married is risky, having children is risky. Don’t worry, in life, you’re not going to get out alive” ~ Jim Rohn
Is your health suffering because of stress at work or based on finances? Do you ever go to work with anxiety, or even physical ailments like headaches or stomach aches that could be caused by anxiety?
Do your relationships suffer because of the time and energy required of your job? Is there a level of joy in life you have yet to experience because your priority was financial “security”? Is your job that secure?
Here’s the most important question: Does your job give back to you as much or more than you give to it?
Most people have not yet tasted what it is like to be exhilarated by their jobs, and if you have tasted it, have you been striving ever since to re-create that feeling but landing jobs that continually fall short?
There is a formula and a system (with tools) you can follow that will put the power back in your hands to bring this experience into or back into your life. We previously made this available to you, have since dropped the price dramatically so that it’s affordable for most people, and intend to bring you a new and improved format that maximizes retention, application and FUN in 2018.
Speaking of health, our life expectancy just went up dramatically, but we will only live that long if we take proper care of our self-healing bodies. This, I know from experience, is no easy feat. But good health enables all of the other areas of our lives to operate. Without it, we can’t expect to achieve fulfillment in any other area of our lives, so it’s pretty important.
So many people struggle to create better habits in this area. We all have heard by now that diets don’t work, and that aiming for a healthy lifestyle of moderation instead is a more realistic goal. That sounds like a commitment, though. It’s scary. From 2015-2016, I was in great shape. I started small, with subsequent 21-day challenges. Within those 21 days, I lost enough weight to motivate me to continue my journey, developed better awareness of old habits and created new ones, and improved my relationship with my body, which was an unexpected, but a very welcomed, outcome.
Honestly, my habits now are a far cry from those, and a year is a long time to sustain results, but it wasn’t a lifetime. I had began to crave better and better results, and dove into more and more intense exercise regimens, and stricter and stricter diets, until – I needed stitches in my arm and wasn’t able to lift for a month. When I read Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin pointed out that often when we develop good habits in one area of our lives, we find it naturally easier to develop good habits in other areas of our lives, as well. From my observations, health is the area in which I see that trickle down impact most powerfully, and I can say that when good health habits deteriorate, good habits in other areas tend to go downhill, as well.
It seems counter-intuitive, because if we devote more time to health, we’ll have less time to sustain all of our other habits, but I am challenging myself, and I challenge you too, to creating a habit of devoting time to exercise and nutrition, starting simply. I will exercise 5 days per week to make it a habit, even if it’s only 10 minutes, but it has to challenge me at least 3x per week, in other words, I will work to my limit. I will also make sure that I eat something plant-based with every meal before I go for a starch, meat or treat. I am not committing to depriving myself of anything. I will make this about ADDING what is good for me, which I feel will naturally lead to a decrease in cravings for what I know isn’t good, but I enjoy.
Starting small worked for me at the beginning, and I believe it’s sustainable for a lifetime, though I may not experience the initial large weight drop that motivated me so much the last time.
It’s all about finding what works for you, and if you form healthy habits, but they don’t have the desired outcomes, such as massive weight loss, you know at least you are gaining better health.
Next week, we will explore 3 more critical areas of your life to evaluate as 2017 winds down and 2018 approaches.
Remember to rate yourself in these areas and write down a vision in each of these that inspire you to make changes in 2018.
Listen to more from Counting Crows: https://CountingCrows.lnk.to/Essentials Explore the incredible history of Counting Crows here: https://www.udiscovermusic.com/artists/counting-crows Stream a playlist of their biggest tracks: http://playlists.udiscovermusic.com/playlist/counting-crows-best-of Experience Counting Crows on Vinyl LP: https://CountingCrows.lnk.to/f6ubC Follow Counting Crows https://www.facebook.com/countingcrows/ https://twitter.com/CountingCrows https://www.instagram.com/countingcrows/ http://countingcrows.com/ Music video by Counting Crows performing A Long December. YouTube view counts pre-VEVO: 2,037,577.
Last month for our podcast, Epic Career Tales, my assistant, Syndie, interviewed a professional artist, Jessica Serran, who has successfully made not just a great career of being an artist, but a great living. Truly epic, right?
Many of my clients have Epic, yet very conventional corporate careers, in that they started out as an entry-level employee and worked their way up the corporate ladder.
Then there are those who ventured off the corporate ladder. Of those clients, some of them really hedged their risk, and saved up 18 months of income as their safety net before they jumped off. Yet others answered the call to adventure in a moment. That moment could have been inspired by a straw that broke the camel’s back, which is the more common. But there are a couple of clients, I recall vividly, who just had an epiphany inspired by something that they witnessed, or watched, or learned, or read. Those clients inspired the idea for the Epic Career Tales podcast.
I wanted to nudge, or even catapult, people toward their dreams by telling the stories of people who successfully climbed the ladder, jumped off the ladder, or never bothered to climb in the first place, even though it seems that the infrastructure of our world promotes a corporate career as the ultimate path to financial security.
That was not my point of view, actually. My dad’s corporate career provided a good stable living for my family and I when I was young, but the divorce decimated financial resources, and when I was in 9th grade, my dad was forced into early retirement and he had to sell the home I grew up in. While my mom’s job in a small company (it was small then, but grew tremendously during her time there and since) provided her with enough for us to live, eat, and stay clothed, but there never seemed to be enough for anything extra, or extra nice. Plus, she was pretty miserable and complained a lot about her job. She came home exhausted. Her pay raises, even after 10 years, were less than a dollar an hour. I was getting better pay raises at my food service job at 15 years old.
For me, the safer path to financial security seemed to be achieving semi-celebrity status in media. When I realized a year into that career that I really wasn’t willing to do what it took to get to semi–celebrity status in media, because it wasn’t really what I wanted, it took courage to realize that I really loved my temp assignment in a corporate recruiting office. And, it took courage to follow that path in consideration of the fact that I was going to take a door-to-door job first to learn sales, and in spite of how I thought it probably would wind up – giving more to a company than they were giving back to me and resenting them for that.
Wow, my outlook was pretty bleak back then.
I know there is a population of people who do not see a corporate career as one that will be financially fulfilling. These people are entrepreneurial and usually seek out multiple streams of income. Some people don’t believe corporations have any honest employees or leaders. Certainly our beliefs shape our decisions, for better or worse and whether they are based on truths or not.
It doesn’t really matter what your dreams are. I don’t see a large percentage of the population following dreams. Why is that?
One revelation that I have stated before was that there is an epidemic, a very pervasive belief among people that we are not worthy of our dreams – that happiness is for other people.
People think they are protecting themselves by not pursuing their dreams; they’ll never have to find out if they weren’t good enough. They’ll never have to fail at making their dream come true. They’ll never have to mourn their dream.
This is tragic because they also never get to find out how brilliant they have the potential to be and how beautiful life can be when you are aligned in your career with your purpose, talent, and interests.
We all have to decide for ourselves what level of risk we are willing to take in order to have what we really want. In a lot of cases people decide what they really want, over having a career that makes them happy, is financial stability.
If that is your empowered choice, I have no qualms. Even though, I still believe that you have disqualified the idea that you can have a career that you love and that provides you with financial stability. That bothers me, and it bothers me more when people decide that what they really wanted to do wasn’t viable for them because they felt unworthy. They may not even realize that this belief was influential in their decision.
You don’t know what you don’t know.
I believe that if you decided that anything was more important than having a career that you love, then you never even tasted what it’s like to have a career that you love. You don’t know what you’re missing. You don’t know how incredible and meaningful life can be when you have a career that feeds your soul.
We interview these Epic Career Tales guests because we want listeners and readers to awaken to their own potential to have a similar tale. I want them to be clear that no career path is going to be without its challenges, and we wouldn’t want that, because then we wouldn’t grow. There are ways to overcome these challenges, and these peoples’ stories demonstrate what it took as well as how amazing it is to be on the other side of those challenges, and to be in a place of knowing you are exactly where you are supposed to be, doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing.
It’s OK to be afraid, and it’s OK to be terrified.
According to Jack Canfield, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
And FDR said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”
Nelson Mandela said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”
If a professional goal scares and excites you, it probably represents your highest probability of having an epic career and life. Commit to it; give it everything that you got. If you do find out that it’s not the right goal, or that you don’t want it enough to overcome the challenges, it won’t kill you, but I promise you, you are more capable and worthy than you realize!
Sometimes the next level of fulfillment that my clients are looking for is comprised of more free time to spend with their family. If Glassdoor doesn’t provide clear answers on how flexible a company is willing to be, the only other way to find out is to ask. If you ask another insider, someone not necessarily involved in hiring you, you might be able to ask more direct questions and people may feel free to be more candid. However, if both of those options are dead ends, the only option left is to find out during the interview process.
Having the interviewer acquire knowledge about your marital or familial status can put them in a precarious position. These types of questions are illegal for them to ask because they are not allowed to discriminate based on the interviewee’s status. Even for an interviewer to find out by you telling them directly opens them up to potential discrimination liability.
Another risk of acquiring about a company’s work-life balance policies is that you might be perceived as though you are someone who wants to play or rest more than work. Some generations are very susceptible to this perception. So, this week I offer you questions that you can ask a company to determine how flexible they are without seeming like a slacker.
What do you do to keep your employees happy and engaged?
What does the average workday look like for three different people on your team?
How has working here made your life better?
I pride myself on being a dynamic person; the experiences I’ve had outside of work enable me to bring even more value to my work. Do you feel like you have a dynamic workforce? And what do you do to nurture that?
What is the best way for an employee to ensure that they are making the most of their 9-5, if those are in fact the expected hours?
Your interviewer may perceive you to be very smart at asking questions, or, if they are really perceptive, they may see what you are getting at. Ultimately, a company would want to promote that they value work-life balance, if, in fact, they do. All employers may not understand the importance, so if it is important to you, take accountability to find out. If you feel that a potential employer resents this line of questioning, consider that resentment good to know and move on to the next company. You do not need to settle. Work-life balance, career fulfillment, and a good income are all attainable.
The promise of a single steady job for life is largely a relic of the past. Not many large companies provide steady employment and constant salary increases until retirement. The only way to gain job security is to generate it for yourself. Careers are not necessarily like soul mates. Having multiple careers is not cheating, but a chance to thrive in a world where job security is no longer a given.
Besides learning (from us) how to successfully and swiftly navigate today’s career transition, microcareers and multi-career paths have emerged as a great way to generate your own job security. Microcareers also called “slash careers,” are hybrid careers where a person takes on a mixed professional identity instead of being beholden to a single profession. This type of professional could be a lawyer by day and a rock star at night, a part-time factory worker and freelance writer, or a web developer and accountant. A microcareer means having simultaneous careers all at once. For instance, I am a business owner, résumé writer, blogger, digital marketer, adjunct professor, beach body coach, and rock star. While many of these professions tie into my larger goal of career management and helping people find jobs they love, not all of my microcareers fit this mold.
Working microcareers is a way to generate multiple streams of income, especially if you are not employed full-time. Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad Poor Dad) and T. Harv Eker (Secrets of the Millionaire Mind) are two businessmen and motivational speakers who believe that having multiple streams of income is the best way to secure your financial freedom.
In addition to generating multiple streams of income, microcareers also allow you to explore multiple passions. Starting your own business on the side or creating the startup you always dreamed about are very real possibilities. David Williams, the founder of CinemaCake, began his professional life in pharmaceutical sales, but had a passion for filmmaking. One day a co-worker asked him to film her wedding, he agreed and landed his first paying gig. Williams then searched for more clients as he continued part-time event filmmaking on the side. Later he won a local filmmaking contest and his win convinced him that filmmaking was his true calling. As he built his client base, Williams stayed in pharmaceutical sales until he went full-time with his business two years later.
Some professionals prefer a multi-career path over having microcareers. Multi-careers are multiple career transitions made within one’s working life. For example, a professional starts their career as a programmer, but later switches to career coaching. Some people find job security by changing careers every few years. This practice is known as career hopping.
Career hopping as a new normal:
Career hopping consists of a series of seemingly unrelated careers. It is not the same as job hopping, where an employee changes employers every few years. A career hop is a complete industry change. Career hopping means making multiple career transitions during one’s working life. For some, their career may no longer be a viable employment option. Others may discover that they no longer enjoy their career and are ready for a change. In my interview with NBC10’s Tracy Davidson, I discussed the possibility of changing careers by applying innate skills and talents to a different role and responsibilities. Many skills are transferable to a variety of situations. Changing careers is a matter of discovering what you like and dislike about your job, applying those skills, and asking your network for help in order to change careers. However, career hopping does come with a major caveat. It is more difficult to brand and market yourself for a single role when you have a multi-career history.
Career hopping is more of a normal lifestyle for most millennials, but not as natural for other generations. Until the Great Recession, it was normal to expect to have career in a single profession and with a single employer. In fact, it has been a complete paradigm shift for older generations who were taught by their parents that hard work and loyalty are often rewarded with stable employment, health benefits, and a pension that will take care of you in retirement. Unfortunately (or fortunately), most of us live in a different reality. For example, baby boomers were hit hard after being at a single job for years and then being forced to find new lines of work. The new reality might not be easy to embrace, but if you can adapt and learn how to successfully navigate and execute a career transition, you will be able to benefit greatly in terms of job satisfaction and increased income from this new work environment.
Work/life integration with microcareers:
People used to strive for work/life balance, but work/life integration is the new goal. With work/life balance, people attempt to leave their work at work, and their home activities at home as they seek to give both facets of their life equal weight. Work/life integration seeks to manage work alongside personal needs and both facets of life bleed together. Work and life are not at conflict with each other. You may have the freedom during the normal 9-5 hours to go to your child’s ballet practice, but you will be logging in from home after the kids go to bed. This means working late, not because you have to, but because you are passionate and energized about your work. Microcareers allow for this type of work/life integration because work does not often feel like work.
Making the leap to microcareers or multiple careers:
In both cases landing a job still depends highly on networking. You can expand your network and venture into multiple circles. Peter Diamandis, an engineer, physician and entrepreneur best known for founding the X Prize Foundation, firmly believes that having multiple projects equals multiple successes. In fact, it is the third law he created in the Creed of the Persistent and Passionate Mind. Think of microcareers as the ultimate in multiple projects.
Microcareers and career hopping are the new normal in today’s working environment. Having multiple careers is a way to achieve satisfaction, especially if you have a dynamic personality and multiple passions. You are not bound by a single position for your job security and you are free to explore your passions. If you are one of the 70% disengaged from your job, this could be the ticket to reinvigorating your career. Just imagine the creativity, freedom and variety that multiple careers can bring to your life.
“What is your greatest weakness?” You could answer everything else right, but if you do not understand the purpose of this question and answer it powerfully, it can sink an otherwise fantastic interview. The real point of this question is to see how you have previously reacted in the face of difficulty as a consistent pattern. Recruiters believe past behavior is the best indication of future behavior. That is why there is an interview methodology coined “behavioral interviewing.” Think of this question as a probe to see how coachable you are—how willing you are to develop and grow. Are you honest with your interview? Are you honest with yourself? This question serves a lot of purposes for the employer, but their main agenda is to find the best candidate to fill the position, which costs the company money every day it remains unfilled.
Answering “what is your greatest weakness?” with a lie is unethical and could cost you the job, but answering too honestly could give a potential employer the impression that you don’t believe in yourself; and if you do not believe in yourself, the employer won’t either. An arrogant answer such as “I have no weaknesses,” or “I’m too perfect,” could also cost you the job. If you don’t volunteer a weakness, a potential employer won’t believe you. They will assume your weakness IS arrogance or that you are not coachable. In order to be coachable, you have to be able to acknowledge areas of development. Employers want to know if you will be an asset or a liability, in addition to making sure you will be a good fit and they MUST be able to believe you.
Determine your weaknesses
First, take stock of your weaknesses. We all have them and they are most likely areas of your professional life that you would like to improve. What currently challenges you? Is it a soft or a hard skill that you are lacking? Are you unfamiliar with technology? Do you shy away from public speaking? We are bound to have blind spots if we rely on our own perceptions of ourselves to identify our weaknesses. Part of our full-service branding includes a survey that is sent your trusted confidants, the people who know you best. It takes BRAVERY and HUMILITY to endure this process. It also demonstrates a dedication to growth. Imagine how impressed an employer will be, though, if you voluntarily participated in a 360 degree feedback. A 360 degree feedback is a process where employees receive confidential feedback from their managers and peers. This process allows employees to come to a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.
Be honest with a potential employer
Be honest with your interviewer, but not too honest. Self-depreciation elicits sympathy, but not job offers. Once you find your weaknesses, neutralize any emotion (shame, guilt, etc.) from mentions of your weaknesses. The Sedona Method of releasing is one way to separate yourself from your weaknesses. There are also other methods, such as Christian Mickelsen’s Instant Miracle, and EFT, also known as tapping. The purpose of release is to free yourself from the emotional weight of your weaknesses. After you find and release your weaknesses, ask yourself a few questions. How has this challenge affected your work and what steps have you been taking to overcome the weakness? Are you taking classes? Are you reading books? Are you doing actively doing the task you dreaded? Have you engaged a coach? According to a 2009 ICF Global Coaching Client study, of the 2200 participants, over 99% of the professionals who used a career coach emerged either “somewhat satisfied” or “very satisfied” from the experience.
Tell the interviewer how you have overcome or are overcoming the weakness and how you came to realize its impact on your performance. Demonstrate to your employer how you added value by confronting your weakness. The Sedona methods and the other methods mentioned are ways to help resolve these kinds of emotional challenges. Perhaps you were terrified of interacting with customers, but recognized your weakness and strove to work with them. Soon you had fewer issues interacting with customers and improved sales at your company. Think about your own experiences and stick to the facts.
Is your weakness a strength?
Perhaps your weakness is actually a strength. (Conversely, some strengths can be weaknesses, so be careful with this line of reasoning. As I mentioned earlier, statements such as “I’m too organized” or “I’m a perfectionist” could come off as arrogant to an interviewer.) For example, you may not have the experience for the position for which you are interviewing, but you sell your experience in other industries as something that will offer new insights as to how to accomplish tasks. In other words, you offer a potential employer a fresh perspective. If you try to spin your weakness as a strength without a real solution, you may strike your interviewer as disingenuous. Like everything else, state the problem, your solution, how you have practically applied that solution to your work, and what the outcomes and impacts have been.
The “What is your greatest weakness?” question is designed to discover your response to challenges. The point is not to show a potential employer that you are flawless—no one believes you are without flaws. Rather, employers want to hire people who know they are not perfect (because no one is), but are willing to acknowledge areas that can be developed as needed in a position and proactively seek out ways to grow.
Think about some of your greatest achievements. Were you successful because you already knew the solution, or did that great achievement come from finding a solution in the midst of the problem?
Summer traditionally means slow days at work and vacation time. As the days lengthen and heat up, fun and sun beckon like the call of a siren. The last thing a majority of people are thinking about is the job search. But as summer winds down, companies ramp up their efforts to fill open vacancies and achieve fourth-quarter goals. This is the perfect opportunity to land a new position.
Hiring may appear to slow down in the summertime, but our economy is in a state of recovery, and job growth continues. It can appear to be deceiving that there are fewer opportunities during the summer because open positions take longer to fill. Human resources and hiring managers have increased challenges bringing stakeholders together to make decisions as people go on vacation. This delays the hiring process because there are fewer managers to conduct face-to-face interviews. Additionally, companies fill a large number of positions during the beginning of the year, so they don’t have as many positions available summer months.
According to ERE.net, the average time for an employer to fill a position is at its highest at 27 business days. This costs companies money. You can save the company money by being ready to promote yourself effectively for an open position. The candidates who are ready to strike with effective branding, a smart strategic plan to be visible, and the ability to articulate how their value presents a solution will get interviews and offers.
Perhaps you’ve put your job search on hold for the summer. Maybe you’re just jumping into the search. You may dread spending another day in your current office. Or you may want to secure your financial future by landing the right job as soon as possible. Starting your job search with effective tactics can accelerate your transition. Wouldn’t it be great to land at your next employer before the fall chill hits the air? It’s not too late pull ahead of other job seekers. As recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, September is a month where hiring typically surges. With some preparation, you can capitalize on employers’ needs to land your next job.
Aid your job search with these seven stages to landing
The seven stages to landing can help greatly aid in your job search. Instead of starting your job search by hitting job boards or filling out applications, you can take a methodical approach to your search. This introspective approach can help you identify your strengths, skills and the value you can offer potential employers. Mastering these seven stages can take a long time, but you can also accelerate these steps in order to land your next position faster. Visualize attracting your next employer instead of hoping they notice you.
As you explore the list, rate yourself in each area from one to seven, with seven being the highest number. Keep those numbers in mind for now, we will revisit them later.
Think about your ideal career or position. Do you have a target position or employer? Think about aligning your career with contributions you are passionate about. For example, if someone is concerned about sustainability they can align themselves with an employer that has the same concerns. How can you use your talents to make these contributions? What opportunities will the job market present? What are the logical steps you’ll take in order to get there?
If you are going for the right target, you may be a little scared, but overall you’re very excited. You find yourself becoming enthusiastic about developing your plan, and you have confidence that you want the position enough that you’ll be able to overcome challenges as they present themselves.
Think about the four to six things that uniquely qualify you for a position. It could be your worldview or perspective on problems, a certain approach to providing solutions, the way you go about working with other people, insights from other industries, an unconventional education, life skills, or even your attitude. Then use these qualities to form your branding points and connect the dots between your qualities and the value that can be realized by an employer. By having these branding points before you start the development process, you can ensure the content you create has meaning for your audience. These materials communicate your strengths and advantages to potential employers, people in your network, and everyone else. Each target requires a different approach:
Corporate targets require a résumé or biography.
Academic, scientific or international targets need a CV. A CV is more comprehensive than a résumé.
Wow your prospective clients with a website brochure or advertising copy. This isn’t just replicating your CV or résumé, it is powerfully branded, reader-friendly and is filled with effective content that inspires action.
Occasionally, the hardest part of this step is actually recognizing your network. A lot of clients tell me they don’t have networks, but it’s usually because they aren’t thinking about all of the people who would really want to help them. The ideal networking process can be fun. Think of finding ways to be around people you enjoy and inspire them to help you be a solution for your next company. When your network is properly trained in how to develop leads for you, your momentum becomes exponential. It’s like having a sales force you don’t have to pay. Have you effectively trained your network to develop leads for you?
Do you have a plan of action to reach your ideal position? Have you sourced hiring managers from potential employers? Are you in position to uncover advertised and unadvertised opportunities? While some information can be easily obtained from the internet, most likely more of the critical criteria for your next position and company will be better divulged by someone who is or has been on the inside. Prospecting is also tied to our next step because what you learn about your target company will help you get noticed, be memorable, and market yourself as exactly what they need. This step is critical to helping you land at a desirable position and location (as opposed to just obtaining any job), and beating out the competition by pursuing jobs that may not even be posted, also known as the hidden job market. Most people skip this step and spend more time getting fewer results. These actions, along with the next step are the most self-affirming stages because once you master them you will have generated job security.
You’ve met people with whom you had quality interactions. Are you prepared to follow up? This means being prepared to track your contacts and consistently keeping in touch without being overbearing. A great outcome is to deepen relationships with your contacts. Many job seekers fear they are imposing, when actually this is where more meaningful relationships are revealed, though some relationships may end. In this part of the process, the time you invest in people starts to payoff in more ways than just job leads. These are relationships that will withstand a job transition, as well as future job transitions. You can consider these relationships like money in a high-yield account. Sometimes just one meaningful strategic relationship can alter the course of your life.
You’ve made it far enough in the hiring process for an interview. Being ready looks like thoroughly researching a potential employer, knowing the qualifications for the job, and how your skills and abilities are a match for an employer. Ideally, you’ll be excited to meet with prospective employers and know how to authentically address the hard questions. If the fit is right, you’ll start with an open and comfortable conversation about what’s possible for both parties, although it’s always about the employer first. The best outcome would be an offer that you are excited to accept and knowing it is what’s best for your career and life. Have you reinforced the values you bring and why you’re qualified for the opportunity? Are you ready to close the “deal?”
Have you researched the market value of your position? How much are perks and benefits worth to you? Are you prepared to consider a counter-offer from your current employer, or another potential employer? Are you ready to accept an offer letter? Part of compensation negotiation is also knowing when to ask about salary and benefits. This process ideally looks like two parties who appreciate the value the other has to offer, and they respect each other enough not to enter into a power struggle. The outcome is determining a win-win package where both parties feel like they are receiving a good deal.
Remember the scale I mentioned at the start of this list? Rate yourself in each area of the list. If you are less than a seven in any of these areas, you may risk prolonging your job search. Think of this process like climbing a set of stairs. If any of the steps are loose or broken, placing your weight on them can send you tumbling down, forcing you to start over again and delaying time as you repair the broken step.
Take advantage of just-in-time training
If you want an edge in your job search, consider our “7 Stages to Landing in September” webinar. It is a free online event that will teach you the best way to start your job search, entice employers, maintain job search progress, and make sure your conversations lead to inspired action. These steps can cut the average job search in half. We’ve had clients fix their “broken step” and land within a month. A small time investment can yield tremendous job search results.
“Jack Canfield Nothing happens until you take action” by BK of Flickr
Ethan is a Social Media Analyst who’s often described by his friends as a “go-getter.” When he sets out to complete a project at work, or help a friend, he gives the task his best effort. Ethan’s work is always completed on time and goes beyond what is asked of him. While he tries to state this quality on his résumé, he does not demonstrate it through his actions during his job search. Ethan looked for work on job boards, didn’t ask his network for help, and didn’t do much research before his interviews. Although Ethan’s friends can vouch for the fact that he is a go-getter, potential employers failed to see this quality. He realized he had to apply those qualities to his job search if he was going to impress employers. This meant connecting with employers, networking, and taking the initiative instead of relying on job portals. Within two months of Ethan applying his go-getter attitude to his search, he landed at a new firm.
What are your uniquely valuable qualities as an employee? Are you detail-oriented? Are you a go-getter? Or are you creative? More importantly, how are you using those qualities in your job search campaign and how are you demonstrating those qualities to potential employers?
Eight qualities employers commonly consider are:
1. Problem solving – Problem solving involves thinking critically, creatively, and being willing to compromise when needed. It could be helping to reduce the workload of a busy boss, eliminating inefficiencies, or finding a simpler way to resolve an issue. In your job search, this could look like finding a hiring manager’s contact information and engaging with them before your interview.
2. Team Player – Team players are people who work well in a team environment. You can demonstrate your ability to work with others by taking a team approach in your job transition. This can consist of getting together in a group, having people attend events on your behalf, and leveraging your network. You can also consider being part of a mentoring group while in transition.
3. Flexibility – Being flexible means you’re willing to make things work. When you’re trying to meet people for job interviews, for information, to network, or even being willing to have flexible work hours, you want to be as convenient as possible. For example, asking “How can I accommodate you?” comes across as flexible and ties into being a problem-solver. This shows you’re willing figure out how best to help a potential employer. Be aware of a few caveats: it is possible to come across as too flexible and seem desperate. You can take your flexibility too far, compromise your values, or seem contradictory.
Max Crowley’s determination to work for Uber is a great example of flexibility. His current role as a System Integration Consultant wasn’t an obvious match for Uber, but he was willing to change careers to follow his passion. Crowley devised a plan where he would position himself to be hired. He followed Uber’s Head of Operations on social media and made it a point to show up at recruiting events. His determination paid off with a Senior Community Manager position.
4. Leadership – Leadership is leading by example and being self-motivated. These are people who naturally take the initiative while following instructions. You can demonstrate this to employers by volunteering in a leadership role and joining a professional organization where potential supervisors could be members.
5. Communication – Communication is more about listening than being heard. We all want to be heard, but being able to listen is a really special quality. Not listening to, or accommodating an employer’s preferred communication method can be a major source of frustration. Some people prefer to communicate by e-mail, others may want you to call, while some prefer a text message.
In the case of Alec Brownstein, he knew exactly how to communicate with his desired employer. He used Google Adwords to purchase advertising spots of the names of his favorite Creative Directors knowing they would Google themselves at some point. Using that space he advertised himself and stated why he would be perfect for the job. Alec was hired by his dream employer.
6. Responsibility and Reliability – Anyone can say they are responsible and reliable, but it is a quality that is best demonstrated. In other words, you prove your responsibility just by doing what you’re supposed to be doing. That means showing up when you said you would, responding when you said you would, and delivering results in a timely fashion. In my years as a career coach, I have found people can easily disprove these qualities just by failing to return a call, or being late for a meeting.
7. Detail-Oriented – Being detailed-oriented ties into being responsible and is another quality that can also be disproven. Do you hear and understand what’s being asked of you? Do you actually take the time to consider the finer points? For example, I’ve read many résumés where people have claimed they were detail-oriented. However, they failed to pay attention to the smaller things such as format, spelling and grammar.
8. Creativity – Being creative means doing things in your job search that others wouldn’t, such as being bold. This could take the form of a billboard ad targeted at a potential employer, or creating an infographic résumé. Creativity also means thinking outside-of-the-box and naturally demonstrating your problem-solving abilities.
Nina Mufleh is a great creative example. She moved from the Middle East to San Francisco and wanted to land a job at Airbnb. Her efforts were ignored by the company. That is until she created a website for an interactive résumé that looked like an Airbnb host profile. It wasn’t long before she was contacted by Airbnb, LinkedIn, and Uber. Nina was able to uniquely showcase her knowledge of the industry and what she could contribute to Airbnb.
Naming these highly desired qualities on your résumé means very little to employers unless you set yourself apart with your actions. The connection between the three extraordinary job seekers is their ability to demonstrate their best qualities while executing their job search. While you may not need to stalk hiring managers at your desired employer, or target them with Google Adwords, you can consider your best qualities and how you can demonstrate them to a potential employer. If you’re a creative type, be bold and creative. If you’re a details-oriented person, pay close attention to the details. How you execute your job search says more than your résumé ever will.
“I hate when I’m working with a recruiter on an opening and, after I go in for a round of interviews, I don’t get any feedback. E-mails and calls go unanswered. The recruiter falls off the face of the Earth until he gets another job in that could work for me.” This quote from iMedia Connection is one of many complaints that job seekers have about recruiters. Many job seekers believe that recruiters are really failing at their job, and while we agree that there is a level of responsiveness and common courtesy sometimes lacking, most of job seekers’ frustrations stem from the fact that there are misconceptions between who recruiters actually work for and what recruiters should be doing for job seekers. An article written by Molly Triffin on LearnVest perfectly highlights these misconceptions:
Amethyst Polk was a NASA project analyst. Despite her outstanding performance reviews, she found herself laid off during furloughs. She acted quickly to find a new job. After exhausting job boards and job fairs, she turned to her LinkedIn account. She cleaned up her profile, and highlighted the ways she contributed to her industry. It wasn’t long before Polk started getting calls from recruiters. She admitted she had no idea how to work with them, and was under the impression they worked to help her find a job. Her misunderstanding meant that it took her longer to land a job because she was missing out on very fruitful alternate resources. Eventually, Polk did figure out how to work with the recruiters and found employment as a result.
Like Amethyst Polk, many job seekers search their networks, and polish up their LinkedIn profiles in the hopes of attracting a recruiter. In some cases recruiters contacts them, and they still don’t get the job. Why? Because in reality recruiters work for their clients, the employers, not the job seeker. Unfortunately, many job hunters are under the impression that a recruiter’s job is to find out what you want to do and then go out and find a job for you. This prolongs the job searching process because job hunters may end up wasting time pitching to recruiters for jobs they can’t help them land.
This brings up another common gripe – recruiters simply blast out job offers, regardless of if a job hunter is qualified or not. For example, if you’re an IT Manager, you certainly don’t want to hear about entry-level jobs. You are in a database and a keyword in your résumé popped up in a keyword search. You then became part of a mass mailing list. They didn’t even read your résumé. Should you waste your time letting the recruiter know that you don’t fit? No. Just ignore it if it’s nothing you would pursue. Whenever you can, though, pass it on! That’s what they’re hoping – that you’ll see the job posting and because you touched this technology or worked with this methodology that you know someone who would be interested in pass it on if you don’t want to pursue it. Misguided and inconvenient? It can certainly be perceived this way, but it is an opportunity. Referral bonuses are very common these days and nurturing your network is a great way to harvest more job leads from your contacts. If you want to avoid this altogether, don’t work with that recruiter. Find another one. Not all of them blast out inappropriate job postings. You also have the option of not using recruiters at all. There are certainly client who I advise not to work with recruiters because they are not what a recruiter would consider “presentable,” employable though they may be. However, if you are a presentable candidate, you would put potential limits on your future opportunity to shun recruiters. They can be the agent that moves the hiring process along on your behalf, if they feel you are their best chance at getting the placement.
You can form relationships with recruiters, while keeping in mind they work for the employer. After all, you both have a mutual interest. They are motivated by money earned from placements and they want to keep their job by filling open positions for their client. You want to be the one who lands that open position. A deeper understanding on how recruiters work can give you an edge during your job transition. More importantly, a better understanding of recruiters can reduce frustration, which causes friction. You will know better to make recruiters a supplemental part of your job search rather than depending on them. Also, if you depend too heavily on recruiters, you are limiting possible opportunity to those jobs that are filled by recruiters, which are NOT all jobs. According to a 2014 Jobvite survey, 40% of job seekers have found their best job through personal connections while about 10% found a job through recruiters.
The different types of recruiters
First of all, recruiters are NOT hiring managers with ultimate authority to hire you. They are responsible for locating suitable talent for a client, and getting qualified candidates in front of hiring managers. There are several types of recruiters, and they all have the same goal of helping a client fill open positions. Knowing what type of recruiter you are working with is half the battle.
Internal recruiters are employees of the hiring company, and their sole job is to fill open positions. They work at their employer’s location, and also conduct interviews there. Success for an internal recruiter depends on how quickly they can fill an open position, how long those hires “stick” and how well they perform. Internal recruiters are usually in a hurry to fill a position for their employer, and don’t have a vested interest in helping you get a job. Their number one goal is to position their employer for optimal success by procuring the best candidates for the job. They often have a goal of narrowing the field of candidates down to one to three per open position, and only one candidate will get the job.
Working with internal recruiters can be advantageous for job seekers, as they have an inside perspective. They know how their organization works, and they know lots of important people in the hiring process, namely the hiring managers. If they feel you are best person for the open position, they may act as an advocate, and may even give you a heads up in terms of the employee culture. That said, internal recruiters are not your personal job advocates. Their loyalty is always with their employer.
External recruiters are third-party firms engaged by employers. Some work on contingency, meaning they only get paid if their candidate gets hired, and some are retained, or used exclusively by a company to deliver top-tier, usually passive, candidates. Retained recruiters are usually hired because they have demonstrated the ability to find the best candidates who get hired and produce. Also, there are external recruiters on-site at their clients managing the whole recruiting process (RPO – Recruiting Process Outsourcing.) This may or not be transparent to you, the candidate. They usually have a corporate e-mail address and are every bit as integrated into the hiring function as an internal recruiter would be. The fee they charge employers is usually a percentage of the first year’s annual salary for the job being filled, which is usually 20% to 30%, or more.
The big advantage of working with an contingent recruiter is that if they don’t find the winning candidate, they have no fee to collect. However, retained recruiters DO get a retainer fee and then a placement bonus; they are expected to fill the job no matter what. The higher your starting salary is, the greater the fee they collect, so they have a vested interest in help you garner the best offer. The downside is that their fee raises the cost of an employer to hire you, and an employer may be tempted to pick an applicant willing to accept a lower salary, or a candidate who isn’t working with a recruiter. Referrals are the number one source for hire volume and the quality of hires, versus third party recruiting firms.
What recruiters actually do
No matter what type of recruiter you work for, they all have the goal of finding the best person for the position. The more effectively a recruiter matches top talent to job requirements, better they are at their job. They are not career coaches, and it is not their job to determine how you would fit into their or their clients’ organization. Don’t expect them to guide you during your job search, though some offer, and you cannot hire them to work for you as a job seeker’s agent. They can get your résumé in front of a hiring manager, but they may not have any control of the hiring process. They can be relied upon as the experts to consult on hiring matters, however. It is expected that they know more about the market in terms of availability of talent and rates or salaries.
Also, recruiters will advise you to make changes to your résumé and consider jobs for which you are qualified that you might not want. They want you to be as marketable as possible. The better you present yourself, the more this will be true. They are sales people in this way. They may have to sell you on the opportunity, and then they have to sell you either to an account manager or the hiring manager directly. They also have little expertise or interest in teaching you how to look for a job outside of them. They wouldn’t want that because it makes you less of a source of their income AND the feedback that they get from hiring managers gives them a certain tunnel vision. Often, I was told that the candidate MUST have a certain experience, and they wound up hiring someone without it based on a recommendation. They expect recruiters to deliver a candidate that meets the requirements exactly, but that doesn’t mean they hire the most candidates who match the requirements best. Asking career advice of a recruiter will help you understand your best chance at landing generally, but not the optimal place you should look for a job when they can’t present or place you, especially if you are changing industries or roles, nor can they qualify what the best possible role would be for your skills, talents and professional goals. They must also be a career coach to offer this type of advice, and I know some are (like me.)
Communicating with a recruiter
Finding suitable talent for an employer is more time consuming than ever. Hundreds to thousands of candidates may apply to a single job opening. Recruiters have to prioritize their time, and the bulk of their time goes to strong candidates. If they feel you’re a good match for a job requirement or a role that has needs ongoingly, they will spend more time speaking to you. On the flipside, recruiters will spend very little to no time working with candidates they feel are a poor match for their clients. This includes not responding to e-mails or sending out rejection notices. Recruiters spend most of their day screening out candidates. This doesn’t mean they are routing against you. They want to believe that you are the candidate that their client will hire, but they are skeptical, and for good reason. Doug Horn writes about the various ways candidates have told lies to recruiters in his article “Résumé Fraud: How Recruiters and Businesses Can Know if Candidates are Lying.” It’s not even just deception, but the unpredictable nature of candidates. It can be very tricky, sometimes funny, often mind-boggling when people are your product. Taking the time to follow up with a recruiter, researching a company, and practicing for an interview can help ensure that you move on to the next stage of the hiring process. This takes persistence. Call them versus e-mailing them up to four times before giving up. The squeaky wheel, as they say. Check out my vlog “Do recruiters want you to call.” Own staying in communication with your recruiter, have regular check-ins and updates on interviewing activities. These early impressions matter, because how you do anything is how you do everything.
Why you should work with a recruiter
Job seeking and making career transitions are all about relationships. Getting a job without the right connections, i.e. your network connections, is extremely difficult. You can think of recruiters as another connection in your net”work” to work. As I said earlier, your interests are aligned. They want to find the best possible candidate for an employer, and you want to present yourself as the best possible candidate for an employer. If recruiters find you to be a good match for their client, they can introduce you to a hiring manager. They sometimes know about job openings before anyone else does, and they also know about job openings that aren’t advertised. These unadvertised positions are typically a firm’s highest paying and most senior positions. Recruiters can give you insight into the employer’s organization, and who the real hiring decision makers are. External recruiters are paid a contingency fee that is based on your starting salary, and they can help you obtain a higher salary.
Ways to optimize your success
How do you get a recruiter to successfully notice you? Have a strong online presence. That sends recruiters running toward you. Keyword optimization is important, but it has to be in context. A little ago I wrote about how to effectively use keywords. LinkedIn is the number one choice for recruiters to find talent. Make sure your other social networks are geared toward helping your job prospects, instead of hindering them. Your online presence is a great way to show how you’re an industry leader, and how you keep abreast of events. Use LinkedIn to connect with recruiters, both internal and external. This is mutually beneficial because recruiters can easily research you. Join industry-specific groups, college alumni, and corporate alumni groups within LinkedIn. Not only will you stand out among other users, but these are also places recruiters frequent on the service when they are searching for talent.
Once you have the attention of a recruiter there is more work to do to make sure you are placed in front of a hiring manager. A recruiter’s goal is to narrow job applicants down to one from three per job description in their quest to present the best candidate to their client. To avoid being cut during the screening process, demonstrate you did the research for an employer by presenting a recruiter with a T-table with the requirements against your qualifications, and a one to two-sentence blurb about something unique and valuable you offer above and beyond the requirements. Your résumé needs to be free of spelling and grammatical errors. Don’t include your references on your résumé, and this brings us to our next critical piece of advice on working with recruiters:
When it comes to qualifying recruiters, you need know that some will keep your references information in their sales database and try to reach out to offer recruiting services to them. Would your references appreciate that? Wouldn’t it be better if you offered to recommend the recruiter if they did a great job placing you? Give references to recruiters after you get their reassurance that they will use the information for references only. If they violate this, blacklist them. They’d do the same to you (stay tuned for a blog on how and why recruiters blacklist you.) In fact, there is a lot more you need to understand about a recruiter before you let them represent you.
Good recruiters limit their submittals, or candidates send, to one to three. The bad recruiters send too many and hiring managers stop giving their candidates attention. Ask the recruiter how many candidates they have presented already and how many are still in play.
Know your external recruiter’s vendor relationship and how it connects to the employer your interested in. Companies can ask external recruiting firms to go through a vendor approval and tiering process. Tier A vendors get priority. Tier B vendors are still approved, but their candidates are only consider if their Tier A didn’t send the match. The tier that your vendor is in can also impact whether the recruiter interfaces with hiring managers directly or not, although some vendor management systems forbid third-party interfacing with hiring managers regardless of tier, which makes it hard for them to influence the hiring decision. These are questions you can ask to better understand your best way in. – Another BIG warning – do not be submitted by multiple recruiters or try to go above your recruiter’s head or you may be eliminated from consideration! It can be perceived as deceptive AND companies avoid candidate ownership disputes at all costs. They probably will not see you as a good enough reason to go through that.
Disclose your criteria and salary requirements up front. Many people trained or coached to negotiate their salary will have been taught to keep their salary requirements private (we don’t coach that way!), but with a recruiter, you have to tell them up front or they won’t bother with you. They don’t always have the leverage to negotiate above the budgets they are given, which is also why some career coaches recommend you avoid them completely. I know this appeals to some job seekers, and if you can effectively leverage alternate job seeking resources, such as your network, then the limits on your future possibility diminish. However, if you cannot generate good JoMo (Job Momentum) without them, give them a try, but make sure you read the next section first.
A recruiter doesn’t always have all opening on their radar. If you see another job position open, ask them about other positions you see posted (but be careful not to apply to too much.) They may have already qualified you, and may be able to present you to a hiring manager faster. If you have already qualified them as a reputable professional, you may have a competitive advantage in working with them. Don’t apply for a position directly through a website; let your recruiter represent you. If they don’t get credit for a successful hire, they don’t get paid, especially if they are an external recruiter.
If you land a job because of a recruiter, thank them for their work by giving them great referrals for other candidates, use them when you hire people, and recommend them when your company is in need of talent.
For a full presentation on how to get interviews using recruiters, view my slide deck, “Get More Interviews: Partner with Recruiters.” (Now included on my LinkedIn profile.)
Recruiters are a vital part of the hiring process. They can make or break your job hunting prospects. Keep in mind they can help you get a job, but they work for their clients. There are many types of recruiters. There are internal recruiters and external recruiters who either work on contingency or are retained. They may work onsite or offsite. You may also have Tier A and Tier B external recruiters who are approved, or may have unapproved vendors. Knowing which type you’re working with will help you determine who you go to first when you see an open position and who your best shot is at getting the interview and the job offer.
Having a good relationship with a recruiter ensures that you know about high-level jobs that aren’t being advertised. Additionally, forming a connection with a recruiter can mean they consider you first when their client is hiring. Going through recruiters isn’t the only way to land a job, but working with them can make it easier land a position for the job you’re interested in. Better yet, a great relationship with a recruiter may mean they bring offers to you, while you’re passively looking for work. A recruiter works for the employer, and leveraging their position with a potential employer is great way to make moves in your career.
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